Boris Johnson’s premiership appears to be in its death throes after it emerged that Michael Gove told him he should quit, as a steady stream of ministers resigned from the collapsing government.
In comments first reported by the Daily Mail, Gove urged Johnson to go while helping him to prepare for prime minister’s questions.
The levelling up secretary was noticeably absent from his seat on the frontbench as a bullish Johnson took questions from MPs and said he had no intention of resigning.
It was Gove who ended Johnson’s first run at the Tory leadership in 2017 by launching his own campaign, saying Johnson was unfit for the job.
He declined to follow Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak in resigning from Johnson’s cabinet on Tuesday evening, but by Wednesday morning he had withdrawn his support. A spokesperson for Gove did not dispute the Mail account.
ついさっき, in a punchy resignation speech, Javid urged cabinet ministers to follow him in abandoning Johnson’s administration, 言って: “Enough is enough”.
The news of Gove’s intervention came shortly after five ministers resigned jointly, taking the total number of government departures to at least 25, as MPs plotted a new confidence vote to try to remove the prime minister.
In an unprecedented move, the five ministers signed a mass resignation letter to Johnson, saying the government “cannot function” given recent scandals and calling on the prime minister to step aside.
Among the signatories was Neil O’Brien, the driving force behind the government’s flagship levelling up policy, as well as Kemi Badenoch, a levelling up and communities minister seen as a Conservative rising star.
The other signatories were Alex Burghart, a junior education minister; Lee Rowley, a business minister; and Julia Lopez, in the culture, media and sport department.
Arguably equally damaging to Johnson, several previously loyal backbench MPs said they could no longer back the prime minister, citing No 10’s changing story about why Chris Pincher was appointed as deputy chief whip despite allegations about groping.
より多い 20 ministers and government aides have quit Johnson’s government, the bulk of them on Wednesday. The first of the morning was Will Quince, the children’s minister, who on Monday had been sent out to defend the government’s position about Pincher, a stance that was reversed within hours.
Soon after Quince’s move, the schools minister, Robin Walker, a stalwart of a series of ministerial jobs under Johnson and before him, テリーザメイ, said he was stepping down.
Victoria Atkins resigned as a justice minister, saying in her letter to Johnson: “I can no longer pirouette around our fractured values.”
John Glen, a longstanding Treasury minister, stepped down citing Johnson’s “poor judgment” over Pincher.
Felicity Buchan, a junior aide in the business department, also stepped down, telling Johnson he had “lost the confidence of my constituents and me”.
Other ministers who stepped down were Jo Churchill, a junior environment minister, and Stuart Andrew, a housing minister. Alex Chalk, the solicitor general, quit late on Tuesday night.
A large number of parliamentary private secretaries – the lowest tier of ministerial job, which is unpaid – also resigned, as well as other government aides such as trade envoys.
Those leaving on Wednesday included Laura Trott (輸送), Jonathan Gullis (北アイルランド), Saqib Bhatti (健康), Nicola Richards (輸送), Virginia Crosbie (ウェールズ), Felicity Buchan (ビジネス), Selaine Saxby (環境), Claire Coutinho (Treasury), David Johnson (教育), and the trade envoys Andrew Murrison and Theo Clarke.
In a further blow to Johnson, the influential backbencher Robert Halfon announced on Wednesday he could no longer support the prime minister, saying he felt “the public have been misled” over the resignation of Pincher after further allegations of groping, the catalyst for the escalation of the crisis.
“The parties at 10 Downing Street were bad enough, but the appointment of this individual [Pincher] and the untruthful statements about what was known [です] unacceptable to me,” Halfon wrote.